In an emergency

If you’re at sea and you have an emergency

There are two main options:

  • If you have a VHF radio, turn it to Channel 16 and send a distress message (Mayday); or
  • Dial 111 and ask for the police. They’ll be able to mobilise the right Coastguard units (and other agencies if needed)

There are many other ways to raise the alarm when you’re at sea (flares etc).
Come and ask us about them or, better still, do some basic training (see the bottom of this page).

If you’re on land and you see someone in trouble at sea

Dial 111 and ask for the police (as above).

The distress call (Mayday)

Switch your VHF radio to Channel 16
Start by getting everyone’s attention – this part is called the distress signal…

  1. “Mayday Mayday Mayday”
  2. “This is…” state the name of the vessel (3 times), followed by the call sign (once)

By this time, anyone within range will be listening, so now give your distress message.  Try to remember the mnemonic MIPNANOO (it will help you to give the most important information first).

  1. Mayday”
  2. Identify yourself by saying “This is…” state the name of the vessel (once), followed by the call sign (once)
  3. “Our Position is…” tell people where you are
  4. State the Nature of the problem
  5. Say what Assistance you need
  6. State the Number of people on board
  7. Give any Other information that might help your rescuers
  8. End the message by saying “Over”

Get some training

The information on this page is the absolute bare minimum that you need to know.
We strongly advise you to get some training, which will help you avoid getting into trouble in the first place, and will help you manage the situation if trouble does happen.
Click here to see the variety of training available through Coastguard Boating Education